FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) applauds the House of Representatives for unanimously passing the PRESS Act, a bipartisan federal reporter’s shield law that would protect journalists from being forced to name their sources in federal court and would stop the federal government from spying on journalists through their technology providers.
“Journalists shouldn’t be forced to choose between burning their sources or going to jail,” said FPF Director of Advocacy Seth Stern. “With the House’s bipartisan vote approving the PRESS Act, Congress comes one step closer to providing powerful protection against surveillance of journalists. Now it’s up to the Senate to finish the job by passing this historic legislation and sending it to the president’s desk to sign.”
“Even as the House votes to pass the PRESS Act, reporters are being put in the agonizing position of being threatened with crippling fines or even jail time for refusing to name their sources,” said FPF Deputy Director of Advocacy Caitlin Vogus. “Now that the House has passed the PRESS Act, the Senate must act to ensure that whistleblowers and other sources feel free to share newsworthy information that journalists use to inform the public.”
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have shield laws or equivalents recognized by courts. But without a federal shield law, journalists still risk being jailed or punished for refusing to reveal sources or their newsgathering material in federal courts, congressional inquiries, and administrative proceedings. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have abused their power to spy on reporters who criticized them or exposed their secrets.
In a rare example of bipartisan consensus, both Republican and Democratic members of Congress agree that America needs the PRESS Act to protect journalists, sources, and the public’s right to know. The PRESS Act is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md.; and a bipartisan group of 18 other representatives. In the Senate, it’s co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.